Event trains community for prescribed burns

Laura M. Mancuso
IVN editor

Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association field training. Visit https://blogs.oregonstate.edu/ignite/ to learn more.

SELMA, Ore. – March 6 and 7 in Selma, multiple organizations came together for a prescribed fire weekend training event called “IGNITE: Prescribed Fire Skills” held at the Siskiyou Field Institute.
Prescribed fire is becoming more accessible and widespread in the Rogue Valley due to programs like the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Certified Burn Manager program and the work of the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association.
IGNITE is a series of prescribed fire training sessions designed for practitioners from various backgrounds and experience levels. Prescribed Burn Associations bring together landowners, volunteers, and trained fire professionals to put good fire on the land.
The following agencies were in attendance with the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association: Southern Oregon University, Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Forestry, Grayback Forestry, Representatives of Confederated Tribes of Siletz, Lomakatsi Restoration, Northwest Youth Corp, Rogue Basin Trex (Prescribed Fire Training Exchange), The Nature Conservancy and Watershed Training and Research Center.
The RVPBA fosters community safety and preparedness, ecological land stewardship, and resilient ecosystems by educating and training community members in the use of prescribed burning.
Aaron Krikava with the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association said, “By having events like this, where we can train community members as well as suppression crews to use fire on the landscape to protect our homes and the landscape, we’re going to better prepare for wildfire when it does occur.”
The event was organized by different stations, with the goal of learning about ignition techniques, what to burn, and how to manage it. There was also a focus on the native cultural significance of prescribed burns.
According to I.V. Fire Resiliency Oversight Group Coordinator Cheryl Nelson, “Local people showed up to learn about techniques for safe application of intentionally lit, low intensity fires which help create defensible space around residences located in the Wildland Urban Interface and also help restore the ecosystem by recycling nutrients and invigorating fire-adapted native plants. Some plants in the Illinois Valley, such as the white leaf manzanita are entirely fire-dependent.”

If you are worried about your health during prescribed burns, the U.S. Forest Service – Deschutes National Forest explains the following: “Firefighters work with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon Health Authority and local public health agencies to conduct prescribed burns when conditions will minimize smoke impacts to communities.
“However, some smoke is inevitable and part of living in a fire-dependent ecosystem. Prescribed burning smoke impacts are typically short duration when compared to longer duration wildfire smoke events. Smoke impacts are often at night or in early morning hours. Smoke from wildfires, on the other hand, may last for days or weeks.”
To learn how to prepare for smoke visit: https://centraloregonfire.org/protect-your-health/.

There will be a free field day exercise offered by the RVPBA April 14 at the ODF Medford Office, you can register at http://tinyurl.com/4tnd94tj or https://blogs.oregonstate.edu/ignite/.
This field day is for anyone interested in learning the basic tools and skills involved in wildland firefighting or getting certified for employment as a wildland firefighter. Some of the training stations will include: hand tools, their use and maintenance, ignition devices, fire engines and hose lays, and radio communication. In conjunction with free online S130/S190 course work, this class will allow participants to complete the requirements to become a National Wildland Coordinating Group (NWCG) Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2/basic fire fighter). For individuals seeking FFT2 certification, the necessary fire shelter deployment and arduous pack test will also be offered.
More information about how to use fire as a land management tool can be found at https://www.roguevalleypba.com/.
To become more involved in these efforts in the Illinois Valley, reach out to Cheryl Nelson of IVFROG at ivfrogpond@gmail.com or call 541-941-0856. You can also learn more at https://www.iv-frog.org.
Nelson offered some insight: “More and more I get the sense that the only path to becoming a more fire-adapted Illinois Valley is to unite our community around restoring the forests and reducing risks of megafires.”